Round Table-Patents and Access to Medicines: Dictations of Morality or of Necessity?
Patent law protects inventions, including medical and pharmaceutical inventions. Indeed, many companies and research entities benefit greatly from patent protection of their inventions in these fields. This protection is warranted given the important contribution of these inventions (including state-of-the-art drugs and vaccines) for humanity at large. On the other hand, the question arises as to the right of individuals (and perhaps entire countries) to access life-saving drugs and drugs that reduce suffering or the likelihood of premature-death. Access to medicines, it seems, is at odds with the proprietary rights of patent owners. Thus, the primary question here is how should we draw the boundary between these two competing interests? This question is especially relevant in the current era, in light of the Covid-19 (Corona) Pandemic. This online roundtable will address this question, from various angles including: legislative-regulatory; moral; practical; and scientific.